“There is NO WAY I could have known that.”

Question from James:
I’ve been a believer since childhood but recently I’ve started to ask myself whether I truly believe in Christianity or not. I find the arguments against it very compelling, but I have seen and heard a few things that I can’t find any explanations, except the work of a God.

First, I’ve met people who supposedly had these visions about others. In those visions they could see details about someone else’s life, like their past, things that no one would have a clue about. For instance I know of a guy who just met a couple and instantly knew, by revelation, theirs names and the names of their relatives and how they got to know each other, all of that full of details so that no one would suspect it wasn’t a real revelation/vision. I know there are a lot of people faking theses things, but I truly believe these folks I know were at least honest in believing they’ve got a gift from the Lord. So I’d like to ask you guys if you can think of any explanations for what I have described. I no longer think that religion makes sense, philosophically speaking, but how can these, “supernatural” things happen? Any thoughts?

Answer by SmartLX:
Leaving aside the charlatans, a lot of people do think they’ve had genuine visions and premonitions. For most people (including me at a younger age) it’s little things, like seeing details of their car before they bought it, or talking as they play cards and drawing a number immediately after saying it, or guessing that someone’s future child will have blonde hair. Some people have more remarkable stories to tell.

Many of these can be explained through coincidences, which happen all the time because the number of possible coincidences on a given day is higher than the probability of any given coincidence is low. Many more stories are simply untrue and spring from imperfect memory, particularly memory-of-memory. If you get fuzzy on how you know something or when you learned it, you might start to remember having used (or simply thought about) that knowledge before the point when you think you acquired it.

If you have one of these stories, in the back of your mind you know people will consider three different possibilities:
1. that you had a moment of genuine clairvoyance for some indiscernible purpose,
2. that you don’t realise that you gained the knowledge some other way, or
3. that you’re just plain lying.

You might believe #1, but you know that if people think #2 or #3 it won’t reflect well on you, and that if either were actually true then you’d think less of yourself. So there’s an obvious pressure to make the story more convincing every time you tell it, and subconsciously people gradually give in to that pressure. The conviction in the voice becomes greater, little details are exaggerated or made more convenient. If the changes are small enough they’re not even remembered as changes, you literally edit your own memory and they’re just the way it always was. Give it enough time (a few months can be enough) and you end up with a profound airtight declaration that you believe absolutely, that no one can verify and that someone would have to impugn your integrity to reject. You end up daring people to doubt you.

I’m saying that these stories should not be taken at face value, no matter how much you trust those who tell them. Everything I’ve described above is part of the reason why anecdotal evidence, the proper term for such stories, is not legally (and especially not scientifically) regarded as similarly reliable to other forms of evidence. People test it if they can, and if they can’t there’s always a cloud over it.

With that point made, let’s suppose your guy’s story is actually 100% accurate and he really learned about the couple by supernatural means. That would tell us nothing beyond the fact that there is a “supernatural” of some kind. It doesn’t support the existence of any god because the world might simply have some inherent psychic energy which your guy momentarily harnessed. It doesn’t speak to any kind of purpose unless something significant occurred as a result of your guy rattling off this bewildered couple’s details to them like a stalker – and any significant result could still be coincidence. And it gives us no insight on how to reproduce the circumstances and actually be psychic instead of just winning some pointless lottery and getting nothing more than a chance to show off.

3 thoughts on ““There is NO WAY I could have known that.””

  1. Its all coincidences and cold reading (conscious or subconscious).

    Here’s something interesting that happened with me recently.
    A colleague who’s taken my position in my old company called saying that he was having some trouble in the job. I was looking at contacts from my old job on whatsapp and found that one of them had a very gloomy pic uploaded (usually they have a cheery pic, as a rule).
    I paid no attention. Went off to sleep.
    I had a dream where I saw that my colleague and this person whose gloomy pic I saw on whatsapp have had a serious argument/ falling out and matters have been escalated to HR. I woke up, and was a bit amused about the dream.

    The next day, I called this colleague to see if there was anything I could help with. I asked about the issues he was facing. And I was a bit bemused to know that the issue he was facing was precisely what I had dreamt about – argument with the exact same person and matters escalated to HR!

    Does that make me clairvoyant? Obviously not. What happened here is that my brain subconsciously somehow correlated the two things (gloomy pic of someone in my old department and my colleague’s message about facing heat) and put them together. It was just a coincidence that reality corresponded to this as well.
    If tomorrow I dream about which horse is going to win the derby, I doubt I’ll be betting on it 😉

    1. How often do you remember your dreams? It is funny that you dreamed the exact correlation of events, except if you had already been familiar with what happened because if the same happened to you. Especially if you had had problems with the same person when you occupied that position earlier. In any case even you dismissed it consciously, your subconscious, was still on the job, wondering what would happen. But if you believe that God is here, as I do, then you must assume that Evil is present also. He also knows how influence the thoughts and perceptions. And he loves to make us think that God is not around to influence us. So he wants us to consider the coincidences of life as mere coincidences, and not as messages. He wants to nullify whatever God would use to let us know that He is around and aware, but Satan does not want to leave his footprint, so that we will not discern that Evil is present. For if we find that Evil is present, then we will begin to realize that God is also. I noticed how not much was said about the postings of what the Bible predicted about the history of our civilizations. Many today are dismissing what others of the past found to be quite unsettling. But that a book written by men who had no reason to even write of the future, who had no reason to want to fool, those of the future, could have some way, predict so accurately our past and therefor some of our future, is to say the least, uncanny. Ok. this still does not put God in a test tube as proof of His presence, nor does it nail it down. But when you add to it the health, information, that the Bible gives as to how to live which our science is just not finding to be spot on. When you add to it the facts of physics that the Bible has given which could not have been possible due to their lack of sophisticated tools. How the Bible has told us about our heavens without having what we have. Then that adds more to the “mountain of evidence” that God is present. Now remember, He can’t open up Himself to us because we are sinful, and He is Holiness incarnate. His Goodness is more than we can bare in our present sinful state. So He needs to expose Himself so as to give us the opportunity to acclimate to His goodness. To His holiness. And after we put 2 and 2 together and come to the realization that He is. And after we have come to where we would seek Him or not, than those who do seek Him will be able to be changed and renewed and readied to meet Him when He comes. And those who don’t, well, He did try.

      1. Gerald – So on top of a god being that there is no evidence for, you now want to blame another supernatural creature (again that there is no evidence for) for the bad part of everything. When do unicorns get involved?

        I find myself dismayed that you continue to make claims, like the Bible giving us “facts of physics”, which have already been shown to be in other posting threads at this website. We can go over any such claim in this thread if you like, so that any wandering soul that might enter here can see you attempt to justify such claims…

        “I noticed how not much was said about the postings of what the Bible predicted about the history of our civilizations.”

        I don’t see that in this thread. Is that contained in another topic? If so I would like to know so I could respond to it, as biblical prophesy is utter nonsense.

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